Smokin’ Joey displayed exceptional late speed when fourth in the featured Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) first-up on January 24th, and appears likely to line up for the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14th for his next point of call.
Claiming a total of six victories and seven minor places finishes from his 46 competitive starts so far, Smokin’ Joey began his racing tenure under the guidance of leading trainer Lee Freedman partway through 2010; passing through the care of Anthony Freedman and Mick Price before arriving at Wez Hunter’s Mornington stables late in 2013.
Returning to the paddock for only a brief freshen-up between the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) in December and the Australia Stakes, Hunter has been thrilled with the form and class displayed by the son of Encosta De Lago in recent weeks and is confident the Carlyon Cup figures as the perfect second-up target, rather than the initially outlined Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on the same card.
“He is really well,” Hunter told Racing Ahead.
“I think the key with him is that he never had the chance to let down in the paddock, he only had three weeks off, and he never got unfit and he never lost that much muscle tone and I think that really helps him.
“He has really bounced back after that first-up run and I am pretty happy with him.
“On-speed horses around Caulfield over seven furlongs are pretty hard to catch and I am leaning a little bit towards the mile, but we will just wait and see.”
Unlucky to finish second behind talented miler Boban in the 2013 edition of the Group 1 Emirates Stakes, Smokin’ Joey was unable to contest much of a consistent run of form over the early stages of his 2014 campaign; beating just one runner home in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) before finishing a distant last in the Listed Super Saturday Stakes (1400m) on March 8th.
Placing sixth in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) on April 19th, Smokin’ Joey left as a rank outsider in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m), but displayed a scintillating turn of foot late to break through for a maiden victory at the highest level.
Claiming several credible results over spring and summer, Smokin’ Joey will have to find an extra gear if to overcome the likely talented field in the 2015 Carlyon Cup.
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